Meriel Cunningham, Amy J Payne, Rosie Strobel and Emily Cairns in Odyssey at Jermyn Street Theatre, photo by Alex Brenner.

Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime at Jermyn Street Theatre

For Christmas 2023, Jermyn Street Theatre “goes Greek” with Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime, an all-female faithful adaptation – more or less – of Homer’s epic poem about the warrior Odysseus and his adventure-filled journey to the island of Ithaca after the end of the Trojan War. Drawing loosely on a range of other sources – from Disney’s Hercules to Assassin’s Creed and the singer Lizzo – writer-director John Savournin and designer Stewart J Charlesworth have crafted a classic solid, gold pantomime packed with and gags, genuine laugh-out-loud moments and wonderfully clever comic songs by David Eaton mostly to the tune of well-known hits including a Bee Gees number that may never recover from the transformation.

Meriel Cunningham, Emily Cairns and Tamoy Phipps in Odyssey at Jermyn Street Theatre, photo by Alex Brenner.
Meriel Cunningham, Emily Cairns and Tamoy Phipps in Odyssey at Jermyn Street Theatre, photo by Alex Brenner.

Performed by the incomparable Charles Court Opera, now nearly 25 years old, this is a highly entertaining and original show – where else could you see a talking kebab and a three-headed dog or, in the centrepiece of the show, an absolutely hilarious take on one – or rather two – of the most dangerous features of the mythological world of ancient Greece? Among an exceptionally strong set of performers, the marvellous Meriel Cunningham is outstanding: blessed with a stunning mezzo-soprano voice, Cunningham has perfect comic timing and the ability to prompt laughter with a look or an almost imperceptible movement. Emily Cairns shines as Odysseus’ heroic wife, Penelope, and also a raucous goddess straight out of Love Island, while an endearing Tamoy Phipps plays the role traditionally fulfilled by Buttons. Rosie Strobel makes for a fantastic villain while Amy Payne is the baddie-turned-goodie who finds true love in the end. Greek mythology is not known for being child-friendly but this production most definitely is – thanks in particular to those songs and the antics of Cunningham and the tireless Phipps – and everyone ends up with a smile on their faces. A word too for the onstage musicians who keep everything moving nicely, and for those brought up on stage to take part in a very funny piece of audience participation.

Now branded as the West End’s Studio Theatre, Jermyn Street Theatre has become one of the capital’s most important theatres, not least for its commitment to supporting new work, and with this fabulous co-production, JST and Charles Court Opera have a surefire holiday hit on their hands. Odyssey is simply unmissable and, trust us on this, so much better than the Iliad!

5 Stars

Review by Louis Mazzini

After his monumental victory at the Trojan War, Odysseus begins the epic journey home to Ithaca and his wife, Penelope. But Poseidon has other plans… So begins this madcap retelling of the greatest story ever told. Join a host of fantastical characters on a mythical, musical (and downright ridiculous) journey as they battle through sirens and a cyclops. Prepare yourself for a boatload of riotous humour – with apologies to Homer!

FESTIVE FUN
Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime
BY JOHN SAVOURNIN AND DAVID EATON.
DIRECTED BY JOHN SAVOURNIN.

23 NOVEMBER – 31 DECEMBER 2023

“Pull up your Parthenons and let’s get Grecian!”
After his monumental victory at the Trojan War, Odysseus begins the epic journey home to Ithaca and his wife, Penelope. But Poseidon has other plans… So begins this madcap retelling of the greatest story ever told. Join a host of fantastical characters on a mythical, musical (and downright ridiculous) journey as they battle through sirens and a cyclops. Prepare yourself for a boatload of riotous humour – with apologies to Homer!

Charles Court Opera and Jermyn Street Theatre join forces to turn Homer’s epic tale on its head in a bonkers new take on one of the oldest adventures. A legendary part of Christmas in London, Charles Court’s boutique pantos are utterly irresistible and not to be missed.

Recommended age 8+

People
Emily Cairns – ENSEMBLE
Meriel Cunningham – ENSEMBLE
Amy J Payne – ENSEMBLE
Tamoy Phipps – ENSEMBLE
Rosie Strobel – ENSEMBLE
Emily Apps – SWING
David Eaton – COMPOSER, LYRICIST AND MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Dave Jennings – PERCUSSIONIST
John Savournin – SCRIPT WRITER AND DIRECTOR
Stewart J. Charlesworth – SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER
Ben Pickersgill – LIGHTING DESIGNER
Blair Anderson – CHOREOGRAPHER
Antonia Georgieva – ASSISTANT PRODUCER
Ben Grant – ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime
BY JOHN SAVOURNIN AND DAVID EATON.
DIRECTED BY JOHN SAVOURNIN.

23 NOVEMBER – 31 DECEMBER 2023
https://www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/

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